Spirit of miners’ strike captured in documentary With Banners Held High

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The humour and resilience of communities which took on the government in a year-long battle against pit closures is captured in a new film.

With Banners Held High celebrates the camaraderie of miners and their families during the strike of 1984–5.

It will be screened for the first time at Wakefield’s Unity Hall on Wednesday (March 25) at a commemoration evening compered by broadcaster Ian Clayton.

Pit workers faced being labelled as “the enemy within” by Margaret Thatcher’s government during the strike, when the police and security services were deployed to defeat the miners.

The film tells of the solidarity of striking miners and how a new feminist movement, Women Against Pit Closures, was formed.

It was commissioned by the organisers of a day-long festival of the same name which drew hundreds of people to Unity Hall on March 7.

A fundraising appeal was made to pay for the film, which includes stories from former Frickley and Sharlston colliery miners.

Producer and director Judi Alston, of Wakefield’s One to One Development Trust, said: “The film is about humour and resilience. It is bitter-sweet really. There are funny stories but they are tinged with resilience. It’s quite a spectrum of human emotion.”

People who attend the free screening can expect to be moved by the raw emotions which still exist 30 years after the strike.

The half-hour film also challenges the stereotype of women coming out of their kitchens to support their striking husbands.

Ms Alston said: “For women it made a significant difference for them because they got the opportunity to be politically active and speak out.

“But they do point out that there have been some big generalisations that women came out from behind the kitchen sink. A lot of them were already active before the strike.”

The screening on Wednesday will also include speeches and performances from A Firm of Poets.

The documentary will introduced by Ms Judi Alston and Granville Williams, of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.

Speakers will also include Joe Rollin, from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, and playwright John Godber.

Mr Godber will speak about his new play Shafted, which opens at the Theatre Royal Wakefield on April 13.

The play traces what happened to miner Harry and his wife Dot in the 30 years after the strike.

There will be performances from poets Helen Mort, Matt Abbott, Matthew Hedley Stoppard, Victoria Garbutt and Ralph Dartford.

Admission is free but seats can be reserved by logging on to www.unityworks.co.uk/events or by calling 01924 831114.

The event will start at 7.30pm.

*Pictures and video courtesy of One to One Development Trust.